Not only is George Kagler '21 WRA's first High School Esports National Champion, he is now a two-time National Champion!
Kagler is the captain of WRA's Super Smash Bros. Division of Esports and the team is supported by Coach and Director of Network Administration Brian Schwartz.
On Tuesday night, December 15, after a season of eight games between 900 students, Kagler competed virtually in the Grand Finals of the High School Esports League National (HSEL) Championship. Kagler played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.
Super Smash Bros. is a game where popular video game characters fight against each other in a competitive one versus one format.
Kagler's passion for the game and successful track record is well known among Pioneer Nation and on Tuesday night, many of his classmates, teachers and coaches were watching on HSEL's official Twitch channel as he fought hard and smart during the Grand Finals.
When Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck heard about Kagler's phenomenal feat, she couldn't have been more thrilled.
"George "the sword" Kagler made WRA incredibly proud!" shared Buck. "His dexterity, skills and spirit represent the best in competition. We couldn't be more excited for his success!"
We caught up with Kagler to learn more about his championship season and his passion for Esports.
Can you tell us a bit about this fall's Esports season?
The HSEL Fall Major consists of an eight game regular open season where about 900 students participated in Super Smash Bros. play. After the regular season concluded, the top 32 players (by their win/loss record) moved on to play in a single elimination bracket for the postseason. I won four playoff rounds to make it to the finals, and I won my final round in the Grand Finals.
How often do you practice?
Leading up to the finals, I practiced about one to three hours a day, three or four times a week.
What was the format of the Grand Finals?
HSEL hosted the entire season and the championship finals virtually. The game was live streamed, along with commentary and a post-game interview.
What do you love about playing Super Smash Bros.?
I love Super Smash Bros. because it's the type of game that allows for a lot of creativity on the player's end. Not only do we get to pick our own characters to use and stages to play on, but the game gives the player a lot of options to move around, attack and do whatever else we please.
When did you start playing video games?
I started playing Super Smash Bros. casually about nine years ago when I was 8 years old, and I've been playing competitively in tournaments since I was 15.
Can you tell us a bit more about your championship game?
My top opponent this season was someone who goes by the username of Albert241. I also played him in the finals. I actually lost to him pretty handily earlier this season with a score of 4-1 in his favor. When I saw that I would likely have to play against him in the finals, I knew I had to prepare well and come in with a better gameplan than I had before.
I prepped by taking about a full page of notes on my gameplan and practicing on the day of the final match with a player who used the same in-game character as my opponent. I had to adjust my style of gameplay to be very cautious, so I could make him desperate to find openings on me. My readjustments worked out perfectly, so I went from losing 4-1 in the regular season to winning a solid 4-0 in the finals.
Do you play other video games?
WRA's busy schedule keeps me from having time to play too many other games, but my absolute favorite game of all time is "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild." I try to find time to play that when I can. It's a lot more relaxing than trying to compete, which is a good change of pace for me.
Do you see yourself pursuing Esports in college or beyond?
I love Esports, but it's not something I look to pursue as a career or even really as a college sport. I treat Esports as a very competitive hobby, but I keep school, my friendships and college as the top priorities in my life.
Congratulations Kagler! This is a well deserved, and very cool, honor!